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Washington Department of Licensing will stop voluntarily cooperating with ICE

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A Seattle Times investigation revealed the agency had been giving away personal information

ICE’s Northwest Detention Center
Seattle Globalist/Flickr

Less than two weeks after the Washington State Attorney General announced a lawsuit against Motel 6 for allegedly handing over guests’ personal information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a Seattle Times report revealed that the state itself was engaging in a similar practice. The Department of Licensing (DOL), the report found, was giving up personal information to federal officers 20 to 30 times a month.

That information, reported the Times, is “used to arrest and deport people in keeping with the president’s policies.”

After the paper launched its inquiry, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee ordered a temporary halt on the practice. Then, over the weekend, the DOL made a major policy shift. In a press release, the agency announced it would be “using emergency rulemaking to end the collection of information that isn’t mandated and could be misused, such as place of birth information gathered during the driver license or ID card application process.”

Moving forward, the DOL announced, records won’t be released without a court order signed by a federal judge or as required by state or federal law.

Governor Inslee had previously issued an executive order asking that agencies limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. In a statement, DOL director Pat Kohler acknowledged that the agency “failed to meet the Governor’s intent regarding the protection of this type of information.”

DOL Deputy Director Jeff DeVere, who oversaw compliance with the order, has resigned.

The DOL also announced it would be conducting a review of processes with the Governor and Attorney General’s offices, hiring a “community liaison officer” to “ensure DOL processes, procedures, and services meet the needs of all Washington residents” and “provide oversight and accountability,” forming a specialized hotline to address concerns, and educating staff on policies.

Kohler said she’s working to “improve our processes and provide more transparency.”

In a statement, Governor Inslee said the reports of DOL sharing information with ICE “angered” him.

“It is clear that under the Trump Administration, ICE and other federal immigration authorities are operating with very different—and destructive—intentions than in recent years,” said Inslee. “Our policies and practices must be adapted to reflect that terrible reality.”